Crostini may seem like an easy, throw-stuff-on-toasted-bread appetizer, but don't be fooled. There's a lot that can go wrong with these unassuming nibbles: the topping may fall off, ruining your guest's dress; the toast may get soggy; the slice may be too thick and/or crunchy, creating the dreaded "bread dandruff" when you bite into it.
To save you from those canape catastrophes, we found the most common crostini mistakes—and how to avoid them.
The bread you use should be high quality; look for fresh baguettes, boules, and hearty country bread, preferably from a local bakery (as opposed to supermarket brands). Texture is very important—it shouldn't be too dense.
Slicing the bread too thick or thin
The bread needs to be thin enough to bite, but thick enough to support toppings. We slice ours 1/2-inch thick.
Skipping the oil
We brush oil or butter on each piece up before crisping it up. Why? It makes the surface of the bread less dry. And it just tastes better, plain and simple.
Over-toasting the bread
If the crostini is too hard, it will hurt your guests' mouths and flake all over their clothes. The ideal texture: crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. To achieve it, grill or broil bread over high heat, making sure to toast both sides. (If you cook on too low a heat, the bread will dehydrate and crumble upon first bite.) You'll know it's finished when the edges are browned but the center still has a little spring to it.
Forgetting the flavor
Salt your crostini right after it's off the grill. This is also the time to add an extra layer of flavor, if you so desire. Things you can rub on the bread: juices from a raw garlic clove, a tomato half, cut side-down, or, our favorite trick we learned from chef Chris Cosentino, a whole lemon or orange—rind and all. The crispy bread will pick up the citrus's essential oils.
Going overboard with your topping
If you pile on the topping, it's going to fall off when you bite into your crostini. Ration your topping so that you can take bites without worrying about staining your shirt. BUT, if you're serving a larger portion of crostini—a plated one that requires a fork and knife to eat—go ahead and pile on the goods.
Overdressing your topping
Wet topping = soggy bread. Use a slotted spoon when working with a wet topping (tomatoes, etc.) so that extra liquid is left behind. If using greens, dress them lightly.